I got the A-OK at my annual visit to the eye doctor yesterday morning. It was typically uneventful. That means I walked in straight and fast and departed eye-dropped into submission, groping the side walls to ease my way out the door and onward to my car in the parking lot.
That may be exaggerating my exit some. I have gotten better at this.
It’s been some 15 years since I gave in and declared that I needed reading glasses to … well, the name says it all, no? I had become a newspaper guy who couldn’t read the newspaper unless I held it at full arm’s length. Menus in a dark restaurant had become indecipherable. No problem seeing captions on the TV, though, and road signs were still easy. So what they gave me to solve the problem are actually called progressives, with no lines but three different prescription zones.
In an unrelated exercise, this wonderful eye doctor of mine precisely used her laser to clean up some worrisome stuff going on inside. I had to come two times, a month apart, back then, one laser procedure for each eye. The aftermath included big green spots dancing in my field of vision. Mild discomfort. Somebody else driving the temporary Mr. Magoo home.
In any case, I’m acutely aware of the office routine by now.
I handed over my insurance card without being asked. The personable receptionist raised an eyebrow and asked why I was giving her my dental card. Aren’t you going to check out my eye teeth? I actually said that, and the technician ready to take me back for step two actually laughed. Just a little bit, as I sheepishly found the proper card.
Back in the eye-checking room, I settle into the patient’s chair and give the technician my present glasses. I tell her I plan to buy a new pair. She looks at the lenses and spots the big, canyon-deep scratches I managed to accumulate on the driver’s side lens. The passenger’s side somehow remained comparatively unscathed, with tiny lines that I could only see if I put on an older pair of reading glasses from my growing collection to study it. The good-humored technician checks the prescription, gives them back to me, and then has me cover each eye and read lines of letters and declare which line is clearest.
She puts one drop in each eye, and then I lean forward into a wonder of medical technology that allows her to extend a prong to gently kiss each eyeball, gauging its pressure. Long ago I requested this method because I couldn’t help but flinch and jerk my lids closed when the simpler, hand-held instrument made contact with my eyeball.
Then comes more drops, two in each eye. I get sent back to the waiting room to, well, wait until said drops dilate my pupils to the size of dinner plates.
When the subtle waiting room lighting starts to look more like prison-escape beams, you know you’re ready.
The second time back to the eye-checking room brings the eye doctor as well as the technician.
The doctor repeats the line-of-letters check and finalizes the new prescription. She tells me to once again lean into the the wonder of medical technology so she can shine a small but dazzling beam of light into each dilated pupil and check out what’s going on back there. I know the light is not escaping out my ears like two beacons because it’s already been established that my peripheral vision is great.
In one eye she spots a little man drinking beer and bouncing in a victory dance. In the other she sees a little man hunched over a small keyboard, typing furiously. Wait, I thought Work-Mark and Play-Mark hide farther back, in my brain …
In any case, she tells me everything is fine, much like 12 months ago. She tells me she’ll see me same time, next year.
After I make the appointment with the personable receptionist, I ask for the special King Kong-sized disposable sunglasses. I know that I will be extremely light-sensitive for the next hour or so. Yeah, I’ve brought my own fashionable pair, but these bendable gorillas not only keep more sunlight out, they also absolutely cloak your pizza-pie-sized pupils from others.
I squint my way behind the wheel and ease my car the mile to a breakfast joint to meet my daughter. After my dear Elisabeth snaps my picture, I take off the disposables. If my wide-eyed look scares my daughter, she’s too polite to run away screaming. We chat and eat our omelets and toast. My pupils shrink. I drive home wearing my own cool shades.